By Mark Kawalya
Native Ugandan bike-hailing startup Safeboda is reported to be leaving the Nigerian market. This comes after the firm acquired funding from Yamaha Motor Company in a drive that is aimed at boosting profitability and focusing on the firm’s core transportation operations in Uganda, its largest market to date.
In November 2020, Safeboda, exited the Kenyan market less than two years after the company had started operations in the East African country. At this time, the company reported that the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had made running the business unsustainable.
Reportedly, Safeboda is closing shop in Nigeria due to the poor performance of the Okada (boda boda) industry, which is currently not economically viable. The sector requires considerable capital injections which is challenging given the unstable global economic landscape.
Safeboday entered the Nigerian market in 2020 with operations in Ibadan city after motorcycle taxis were banned in some regions of Nigeria. Such unpredictable government policies led to a negative operational environment that stifled the firm’s ability to capture a worthwhile client base in Nigeria.
Additionally, the firm cited Nigeria’s tough business ecosystem as the main deterrent to the company recording reasonable revenue margins, during the two-year period that the company was operating in the country.
After the Nigeria exit, Safeboda reported that its primary focus will be scaling its operation in the Ugandan market, which is more profitable and has a more conducive business ecosystem. According to the firm’s CEO and co-founder, Alastair Sussock, the company had made significant profit gains in Uganda and would further develop its business operations within the country’s borders.
“The unit value of our services in Uganda is significantly higher than in Nigeria and our brand has deeper roots. In Uganda, our boda boda and car hailing services also work well with our parcel delivery, payments and financial service products.”he said.
In September 2022, Safeboda introduced another product to the Ugandan market dubbed Safecar, which has so far experienced a 40% weekly increase. Safeboda has over the years become a familiar favorite among Ugandans, and it is on its way to becoming Uganda’s foremost ride-hailing service provider.